Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth

by

Susan King

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A group of people from ancient Ireland and Scotland. Also refers to the culture and language of said group. Used interchangeably with Gael.

Celt/Celtic Quotes in Lady Macbeth

The Lady Macbeth quotes below are all either spoken by Celt/Celtic or refer to Celt/Celtic. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
History, Memory, and Storytelling  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Three Rivers Press edition of Lady Macbeth published in 2008.
Chapter 2 Quotes

Our priest baptized the child to protect her soul, and the midwives bathed her in warm milk and lifted her in their hands as they spoke charms against all manner of ills: fire, drowning, illness and injury, fairies, bewitchings, elf bolts, all conceivable harms. Bodhe named his new daughter Brigid to further protect her. Yet within days, Ailsa and tiny Brigid were buried together on a hill overlooking the sea, and I, who heard equally the catechism and the Celtic tales, wondered if their souls would travel to heaven or Tír na n’Óg, the paradise beyond Ireland in the misty realm, which our bard spoke about. […]

“Ailsa of Argyll is dead,” [Father Anselm] said bluntly, stopping, “and her soul needs our prayers, not trinkets, so that she may be forgiven by the grace of God. Perhaps she need only spend a little time in purgatory before her soul is purified of sin.”

“My mother will go straight to heaven on the strength of her character,” I said. “Though she might prefer Tír na n’Óg, where she would not be judged.”

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Father Anselm (speaker), Bodhe , Ailsa , Brigid
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7  Quotes

Them men formed a circle around me, friends and enemies both. Ahead, on the earth of the practice yard, two swords lay crossed and ready, shining blades reflecting the glow of the sunrise. Nearby, horses stood, gleaming and grand, ready to be ridden, while overhead, two eagles winged toward the mountains, and a raven settled on a gatepost. Moon and stars were still visible in the sky, and the sunrise flowed over the hilltops like a spill of blood, the sun in its midst like a golden wafer. […] I knew some of the elements—ravens were death and warning, eagles pride and pairing, horses freedom; the swords might be conflict or war, and the circle of warriors around me could have been a sign of protection, or the men in my future. […] My mother had been gifted with the Sight that brings spontaneous visions, so common among the Gaels that we call it Da Shealladh, the gift of two sighs. A great-grandmother on Bodhe’s side had been a taibhsear, a seer, from whom others sought advice.

Until that moment, I had not known that I, too, had a hint of that talent.

Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:

“The truth is in what Moray offers,” [Bodhe] said. “Every mormaer of that region has an ancient right tot be called Rí a Moreb, king of Moray. His wife can be called ban-rí, queen. Just now, Gilcomgan and King Malcolm support one another. But if the Rí a Moreb ever summoned men to revolt, the strength of that army would be such that the mormaer of Moray could himself be king over all Scotland.”

“And marriage to me could ensure that for Gilcomgan. Or for our son,” I added. […] He looked hard at me. “Even carrying the blood of Celtic kings, you cannot rule alone. You need a strong and ambitious husband.
“Our blood needs one,” I corrected bitterly.

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Bodhe (speaker), Gilcomgan , Thorfin Sigurdsson, King Malcolm
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8  Quotes

“Often the meaning of the omens we see it not clear until later. If we knew too much about the future, we might be afraid to step from our houses. Do not fret—the signs you saw speak of Scotland’s future even more than your own.”
“Scotland?” I blinked. “Because of the warriors and symbols of warfare?”
“Perhaps they will be Rue’s husbands in future,” Bethoc said. “Well, not all of them,” she amended when I gaped at her.

Mairi took my hands in hers and closed her eyes. “Two husbands,” she said. “Three, if you so choose. Like most women you will have a share of happiness and measures of sorrow. Unlike most, you will have… power.” She let go of my fingers. “You can draw strength from within yourself, like water from a well. Your mother gave you the sign of the good Brigid on your shoulder,” she went on, touching my upper sleeve, which covered the symbol. “Call upon that protection whenever you need it.”

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Bethoc (speaker), Mairi (speaker), Macbeth, Bodhe , Gilcomgan , Ailsa , The Goddess Brigid
Related Symbols: The Triskele
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9  Quotes

At one point, King Malcolm himself carried his great-grandson and held him out to King Cnut. The prince, at two years old a sturdy handful, set up a lusty caterwauling, so that both men looked annoyed. Still, the message was clear: young Malcolm mac Duncan of Scotland had made a symbolic homage to the ruler of England.

And it was clear to those watching that in making his great-grandson pledge to England, old Malcolm was declaring that his line, grandson to son, would be kings hereafter. […]

The child’s mother, Lady Sybilla, stepped forward to take her boy from her father-by-law. I was among the retinue of women who walked with her, and she turned to give the squalling child to me. He struggled to get down, and I set him on his feet, taking his hand. He pulled me along rather like a ram dragging its shepherd. Others were amused, but I felt a strange sense, like a weight on my shoulders, on my soul.

And then, with a shudder, I knew it for an omen of the future—myself, and all of us gathered that day were linked to this moment as if by the tug of a heavy chain.

Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 19  Quotes

“The old legends are filled with such women—the great Irish queen, Macha, and Princess Scathach of Skye, who trained warriors in her fighting school, and also her sister Aoife, who bested Cu Chulainn and bore his son […] Celtic women have fought beside their men since before the names of kings were remembered. And even though Rome forbids Gaelic women to fight, it is rightful enough according to our customs.”

“They forbid with good reason,” Maeve said, bouncing Lulach on her lap. “Women have enough to do and should not have to go out and fight men’s battles, too.” […]

“The eyes of the Church cannot easily see beyond the mountains of the Gaels,” I said, “where warlike behavior in a woman is not sinful heresy, and is sometimes even necessary.” And I remembered my early vows—as a girl taking up a sword to defend herself, as a woman swearing on a sword to defend her own. Another facet of my obligation to my long legacy came clear: if others were so set on eliminating my line, and I and Lulach the last of it, then I would be steadfast as any warrior.

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Aella (speaker), Bethoc (speaker), Maeve (speaker), Bodhe , Lulach , Dolina, Scathach of Skye
Page Number: 177
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 20  Quotes

“If we were to gain rod and crown,” I said low, so that none should hear but he, “we could satisfy our heritage and avenge our two fathers, all at once.”

“Just so.” He cast me a look that was sharp and clear.

I felt a chill. “You led me deliberately to share your plan, from the first.”

“In part,” he admitted, “for I knew the worth in your blood, and saw the worth of your nature. But I could never have planed as well as fate has done. It has twinned our motives now. Your father and mine are gone, and they deserve this. Our branches, Gabhran and Lorne, deserve this.”

“And the ancient Celtic blood of the whole of Scotland—it, too, needs this.”

“It does.” He smiled, and we rode on in silence.

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Macbeth (speaker), Bodhe , Finlach
Page Number: 187
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 26  Quotes

“I made a sword vow years ago to protect my own, and I will keep it. I have a home and a son to protect, and I have a husband to support as best I can. All my life I have lived a female among Celtic warriors. My sword arm is trained, my bow and arrow are swift, and I have already bloodied the blade. Know this—my determination is in place. I will go with you.”

Macbeth took my horse’s bridle. “Each one who rides with me contributes to the whole. Your skill I will not argue, but your fortitude is little tested. You would require guards to protect you, and that detracts from the whole.”

“Have you not made it your purpose to uphold the old ways, the ancient ways, of the Gaels and the Celts?” The horse shifted under me, and I pulled the reins. Macbeth still held the bridle. “Celtic women have always fought beside their men.”

Page Number: 260
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 31 Quotes

Here is what the annals will say of Macbeth’s kingship: very little.

Seventeen years of plenty and peace for Scotland, give or take some strife. We suffered few battles and fewer enemies compared to other reigns. Scotland was brimful: fat cattle on the hillsides, fish in the streams, sheep thick with wool, the bellies of trading ships heavy with goods. Grain crops were golden and larders and byres filled; treasures accumulated, and all prospered, from shepherd to mormaer. Contentment is a thing not often recorded in the annals.
For much of Macbeth’s reign, the strength of his reputation and presence and the loyal nature of his alliances protected Scotland as never before. We had respite from decades of wars and conflict. Given more time, he would have attained what he sought of Scotland: more fair-minded laws, and the blending of honored Celtic traditions with the ways of the Church and even the Saxons.

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Macbeth, Malcolm mac Duncan
Page Number: 314
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Lady Macbeth LitChart as a printable PDF.
Lady Macbeth PDF

Celt/Celtic Term Timeline in Lady Macbeth

The timeline below shows where the term Celt/Celtic appears in Lady Macbeth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...gifts, she is uninterested in the power he offers her. She explains, “I am a Celt and value honor more” than power offered by a man she doesn’t respect and whose... (full context)
Chapter 2
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
When her daughter was a baby, Ailsa gave Gruadh a Celtic tattoo, the triskele, or symbol of the goddess Brigid. It is a symbol of protection,... (full context)
Chapter 7 
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...dazzling weave made of ordinary threads.” She understands some of the omens, and as a Celt, and the daughter and granddaughter of women with Da Shealladh, or second sight, has been... (full context)
Chapter 10 
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
That May, Gruadh and Gilcomgan are married. Gruadh had wanted a Celtic wedding, but instead she has a Christian one. That night, after a lively feast and... (full context)
Chapter 12 
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Gruadh further complains that she would “prefer to be wed in the old Celtic way, with charms and blessings.” Macbeth agrees, taking her in three circles around the priest... (full context)
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...send his men. Her thirst for revenge is powerful, and she attributes it to her Celtic heritage, which “demands justice at any cost.” However, the next visitors Elgin receives are a... (full context)
Chapter 13 
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...to rule Scotland for the nation’s own good. Macbeth disagrees, and argues that the old Celtic way is better. Malcolm insists Macbeth pledge his loyalty, especially since he gave him Moray.... (full context)
Chapter 15 
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
...son a tattoo like she has. Gruadh cannot tell whether or not Macbeth approves of Celtic practices and so is careful to explain she has not decided, and that her mother,... (full context)
Chapter 17 
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...bishop in Moray. He asks Gruadh for her input and, impressed with her answer—that a Celtic man “who will think of Moray souls before himself” should be appointed—he muses that he... (full context)
Chapter 19 
History, Memory, and Storytelling  Theme Icon
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
...The next day Gruadh considers these warrior women, and how she is part of their Celtic legacy of women who took up arms and fought on their own or beside their... (full context)
Chapter 20 
History, Memory, and Storytelling  Theme Icon
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
...kills herself in grief. That night, Gruadh talks to Macbeth about the story—she feels that Celts and Gaels no longer have freedom, and cannot live like Deirdre and Naisi anymore. Macbeth... (full context)
Chapter 21 
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
...woman is the charcoal burner’s wife, Una, dressed up as Old Cailleach, a woman from Celtic mythology. (full context)
Chapter 22 
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...Sybilla, who is “effectively queen,” although because she is Saxon can never be a fully Celtic queen. Gruadh wonders if she will also have the title of queen, acknowledging envy is... (full context)
Chapter 23 
History, Memory, and Storytelling  Theme Icon
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
...she is persistent. She knows she will never be a soldier, but there is a Celtic history of women warriors, and marching by Macbeth’s side makes both of them seem strong,... (full context)
Chapter 24
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...son, he will make Lulach his heir. He adds that Lulach, because of laws of Celtic succession, would be his heir, and anyway, is his son “in all ways but one.” (full context)
Chapter 25 
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...in their bedroom. He tells her his coconspirators want him to participate in an old Celtic tradition—they want him to kill Duncan himself and win the crown. Although he has killed... (full context)
Chapter 26 
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...points out she has killed and wounded before and is participating in a tradition of Celtic women warriors. She adds that she has her own reason to ride out—the deaths of... (full context)
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
In Celtic tradition, in between times are magical. That night—before Duncan’s wounds kill him and he is... (full context)
Chapter 27 
History, Memory, and Storytelling  Theme Icon
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
That day, Gruadh and Macbeth participate in the Celtic crowning ceremony. A bishop says prayers, and then leads Macbeth in Latin and Gaelic vows.... (full context)
Chapter 31
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Gruadh reflects on how, given more time, Macbeth would have worked to blend Celtic traditions with the “the ways of the Church and even the Saxons.” Gruadh protested that... (full context)